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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
By Associated Press Reporters

Protests continue in France as King Charles’s visit is postponed

Firefighters controlling the remains of a rubbish fire from Thursday night’s protests in Paris against the retirement Bill (Thomas Padilla/AP)

Protesters angry at French President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms have continued with scattered actions.

It comes as the unrest across the country led officials to postpone a planned state visit by Britain’s King Charles III.

Although no major protests were planned on Friday, train traffic was slowed, rows of trucks blocked access to Marseille’s commercial port and debris still littered the Paris streets following the previous day’s mass demonstrations.

More than 450 protesters were arrested in Paris and beyond on Thursday as some 300 demonstrations drew more than a million people nationwide to protest against unpopular pension reforms.

Interior minister Gerald Darmanin said on Friday some 441 police and gendarmes were hurt as violence marred some marches.

He said 1,000 rubbish bins were set on fire in the French capital during the previous day’s action.

Amid a weeks-long refuse collectors strike, bins have become a symbol of the protest.

Mr Macron’s office said a state visit by the British King has been postponed.

He was scheduled to arrive in France on Sunday on his first state visit as monarch before heading to Germany on Wednesday.

The German part of the trip is still going ahead.

Polls say most French oppose Mr Macron’s Bill to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64, which he says is necessary to keep the system afloat.

The supply of fuel to Paris by the large Gonfreville-L’Orcher refinery in Normandy resumed on Friday after police intervened, according to energy transition minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher.

At the Fos-sur-mer oil terminal near Marseille, however, protesters were meeting to plan future oil refinery blockades.

Fearing disruptions in the coming days as actions continue, France’s Civil Aviation Authority has asked for a third of flights to be cancelled on Sunday at Paris’s second airport, Orly, with 20% to be cancelled on Monday.

Unions have called for new protests and strikes on Tuesday, the day Charles was scheduled to visit Bordeaux.

The heavy wooden door of the elegant Bordeaux City Hall was destroyed by fire on Thursday night by people taking part in an unauthorised demonstration.

The mayor of Bordeaux, Pierre Hurmic, said on Friday he has “difficulty understanding the interest of such acts of vandalism”.

The protests have drawn support from beyond France’s borders.

In Greece, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the French Embassy in Athens on Thursday to show solidarity.

Protesters chanted slogans and held placards that read “Macron, your democracy hangs on nine votes” and “From Greece: victory for the workers of France”.

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